Sara Lewis

Posted 17 Oct 2018 | Stories | Pilotlighter Profiles

Sara is a Charted Building Surveyor and heads up the national dilapidations team at Savills. She has just finished her first Pilotlight project.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

When I became a chartered building surveyor in 1998. I worked very hard as one of only four girls on my university course, and combined working and study for another two years to become chartered. I am very proud of my MRICS status.

What does success mean to you?

Success for me is not only seeing my team as a whole achieving business targets, but also working with each team member to set goals and help them to fulfil their potential.

Who’s most influenced you in your career and why?

Bart Woolhouse, a partner at Malcolm Hollis (my previous employer) played a big part in defining who I am, how I run my team and work on a day-to-day basis. He gave me opportunities, which at the time I felt were beyond me, but if I hadn’t taken them I wouldn’t be where I am today. He instilled in me a belief that I could do anything.

Why did you become a Pilotlighter?

I liked the concept, and when I attended an event and heard a Pilotlighter and charity leader speaking about the process, I was amazed at the results they’d achieved. Whenever I’m at a Pilotlight event I love to talk to the charity CEOs and ask about their experience, and I’m never disappointed. I only ever hear about how much value their Pilotlight project has added to their charity.

What keeps you working with us?

I’ve only completed one project so far (with Wirral Ark), but am hungry for the next! It’s difficult to decide if that’s because of the charity, the other Pilotlighters in the project team or the Project Manager from Pilotlight. Being a Pilotlighter has given me a unique personal development experience.

Tell us one thing you’ve learnt through working with us.

The problem the charity initially presents the Pilotlighter team with isn’t always the real problem. Listening and asking the right questions is very important and helps to get to the issues bubbling under the surface.

This kind of listening is also essential when dealing with my clients back at Savills, as the service our clients often think they need isn’t necessarily the right one to solve their problem. We pride ourselves on providing bespoke services, and enhancing my listening and problem-solving skills through being a Pilotlighter, has been invaluable to my work there too.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

Understanding that the charity doesn’t look at things in the same way as a corporate company. You need to build trust with them before they'll listen to any advice.

What’s been your biggest surprise?

Once trust was built with Wirral Ark, I was surprised how quickly and enthusiastically they opened up to the Pilotlighter team. It was brilliant.

Has working with charities inspired you in any way?

After every project meeting, charity site visit and away day, I was inspired to go back to my job at Savills with new passion and ideas.

Has being a Pilotlighter influenced you in any other area of your life?

It's encouraged me to look into the charity sector in more detail and I’m much more aware of the issues it faces now. Working with charities is certainly something I want to continue to be involved with as I move on in my career.

Describe the Pilotlight Effect.

It’s addictive. It makes you feel good, it challenges you to think and behave in different ways and it's lots of fun!

How did the skills within your Pilotlighter team help the charity you worked with?

As a team we were able to establish quickly what the main issue was. We then worked with the charity to formulate various strategies and projects they could implement to resolve it, and then assisted them in reducing these to a manageable number. I can’t wait to see how they’ve got on with the ones they were going to take forward.

What question would you ask the next Pilotlighter who does a profile?

What is the most rewarding thing you feel the charity got out of their Pilotlight experience?